KUCHING: The state government is committed in ensuring sustainable forest measures are in place for Sarawak.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the state government recognised the importance of sustainable forest management to address the issues of forest degradation and deforestation which plagued some countries undergoing rapid development.
“We are also aware of the problem and taking steps to safeguard our forests.
“However, the forest ecosystem is highly complex and influenced by numerous external factors.
“We believe the criteria for sustainable forest management must be constantly adapted to new circumstances and reflect the national context and specific ecological and environmental conditions,” he said when opening the Global Timber Conference 2017.
Awang Tengah also said Sarawak was open to external scrutiny of its forest management policies and practices.
He said an International Tropical Timber Organisation mission to Sarawak in 1989 to 1990 found the state practised a higher standard of forest management than many other tropical timber-producing countries.
A Malaysia-Germany technical cooperation project on sustainable forest management in Sarawak was also set up in 1995 and was in its second phase.
“A pilot study area in Upper Baram has been established as a field demonstration of a sustainable forest management system proposed for this project.
“In 2015, we launched the Rimba Sarawak initiative whereby we open up our totally protected areas to international scientific studies and exploration,” Awang Tengah said.
In addition, he said the state government was targeting one million hectares of protected forests in Sarawak by 2020.
“We are confident of achieving this target. To date, we have gazetted over 900,000ha of protected areas,” he said.
Awang Tengah said the timber industry was important to Sarawak, contributing RM5.9bil worth of exports in timber and timber products last year.
“This accounted for approximately 27% of Malaysia’s total timber exports, which is very significant,” he said, adding that the industry also employed 150,000 people.
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